CORPORATE EXPERIENCE 5
- Taxation on company cars will increase every year. Selecting cleaner cars is no longer a solution; reducing fleet size and providing alternatives is the only way forward. Technology is how it can be achieved.
You’ve probably noticed as well that taxes tend to go up, rather than down. The tax authorities also seem to be the only government officials with any creativity. In my career as a fleet manager, it seems the most nonsensical new taxes are created for the company car category. Public opinion doesn’t seem to mind, as the company car is now being depicted as the worst of all evils: pollution, congestion,… it’s all our fault. I don’t necessarily agree, as we are taking steps to improve by renewing our cars regularly for low-emission vehicles, but that’s no longer the point. In the long run, the company car will disappear by force, and it’s up to me to start preparing. Fact number one: I can’t count on tax regulations to be consistent. For instance, we’ve been electrifying in the Netherlands based on previous legislation but continuing to do so would be way too expensive. Fact number two: city bans are becoming a real pain. I’ve already had a few employees who were fined because they entered Antwerp city center with a 2017 VW Touran diesel. These girls and guys were not happy when I told them we’re not paying the fines. Fact number three: I need to review our policy and car lists at least once a year in every country, because of taxation changes. We’re present in 15 countries. It’s taking way too much time and I have no idea how I can manage.. Fact number four: our employees are complaining because the cars on the car list are all BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Employee contributions are too high, they prefer more salary. However, if I put Kia or Hyundai or even Skoda, the works councils won’t approve… So, we piloted a new program in our Amsterdam office. First, we started to fully subsidize public transport subscriptions for commuting, for all employees except for those who had a company car. For employees willing to give up their company car, they received the same benefit plus a private mobility budget of 300 Euro. Unfortunately, these benefits are partially taxable as income, but still a lot less than the taxation on a car. The cars that were returned (only about 10% of the company car drivers joined the program in the beginning) were put in a shared carpool, accessible for everyone to use. We renewed these cars quickly and put some Tesla Model 3’s in there to make things more attractive. More people returned their company cars and we even stopped offering them to newcomers, in exchange for mobility budgets. We’re now 2 years into the program and the size of our Amsterdam car fleet is just 20% of what it used to be. We’ve started implementing in other cities as well. At the end of the day, the best way to avoid paying taxes is to remove the taxable asset, not try to make it more efficient.